Breast Cancer Awareness: Screening, Symptoms and Dietary Links (Part 2)
Regular breast examination is important as EARLY breast cancer usually does NOT cause any symptoms. The American Cancer Society recommendations for early breast cancer detection in women without symptoms are as follows:
Women age 40 and older should have a mammogram every year and should continue to do so for as long as they are in good health. Recent evidence confirms substantial benefits of mammographic screening for women in their 40s. No screening tool is 100% effective, however, despite limitations, mammography remains a very effective and invaluable tool in decreasing suffering and death due to breast cancer.
Women in their 20s and 30s should have a Clinical Breast Exam(CBE) as part of a regular health exam by a professional, preferably every 3 years. Starting at age 40, they should have a professionally done CBE annually.
CBE’s along with screening mammograms offer women and their healthcare professionals the opportunity to discuss changes in their breasts for early detection testing, and factors in women’s histories that might make them more likely to have breast cancer. Women should be informed of the benefits and limitations of CBE’s and breast self exams. The underlying importance is to be aware of one’s own breast and promptly report any changes detected.
Early breast cancer usually doesn’t cause any symptoms. Hence the importance of regular breast exams and screening.
As cancer grows, some symptoms may include:
- Breast lump or lump in armpit that is hard, non mobile and doesn’t hurt.
- Changes in size, shape or feel of breast or nipple- eg. redness, dimpling or puckering that looks like orange skin (peau d’orange)
- Nipple discharge- bloody, clear to yellow, green or pus
Advanced symptoms may include:
- bone pain
- breast pain or discomfort
- skin ulcers
- swelling of one arm ( same side as breast with cancer)
- weight loss
The Diet & Breast Cancer Link:
Many studies have shown that moderate to vigorous physical activity is linked to lower breast cancer risk. A diet rich in fruits, vegetable, fish, poultry and low fat products have also been linked with a lower risk of breast cancer in some studies. But it is not clear if specific vegetables, fruits or other foods can lower the risk.
Most studies have not found that lowering fat intake has much of an effect on breast cancer risks.
Currently the best advice on diet and activity to possibly reduce breast cancer is :
- Get regular, intentional physical activity
- Reduce lifetime weight gain by limiting calories and getting regular physical activity